“Under today’s process, Mr. Schiff gets to make up the rules as he goes along. Behold the Lord High Impeacher. Democrats view control over the narrative as essential, having learned from their Russia-collusion escapade the perils of transparency.”

Behold the Lord High Impeacher
By Kimberley Strassel
The Wall Street Journal
October 24, 2019

Democrats keep their witnesses locked behind secure doors, then flood the press with carefully sculpted leaks and accusations, driving the Trump-corruption narrative. And so the party goes, galloping toward an impeachment vote that would overturn the will of the American voters—on a case built in secret.

Conservative commentators keep noting that Mrs. Pelosi’s refusal to hold a vote on the House floor to authorize an official impeachment inquiry helps her caucus’s vulnerable members evade accountability. But there’s a more practical and uglier reason for Democrats to skip the formalities. Normally an authorization vote would be followed by official rules on how the inquiry would proceed. Under today’s process, Mr. Schiff gets to make up the rules as he goes along. Behold the Lord High Impeacher.

Democrats view control over the narrative as essential, having learned from their Russia-collusion escapade the perils of transparency. They banked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation proving impeachment fodder, but got truth-bombed. Their subsequent open hearings on the subject—featuring Michael Cohen, Mr. Mueller and Corey Lewandowski —were, for the Democrats, embarrassing spectacles, at which Republicans punched gaping holes in their story line.

Mr. Schiff is making sure that doesn’t happen again; he’ll present the story, on his terms. His rules mean he can issue that controlling decree about “only one” transcript and Democratic staff supervision of Republican members. It means he can bar the public, the press and even fellow representatives from hearings, even though they’re unclassified.

Mr. Schiff apparently even believes his impeachment authority allows him to ignore longstanding rules. A recent letter from Republican members of the Intelligence Committee objected to Mr. Schiff’s new practice of withholding official documents. They listed nearly two dozen letters from the committee (to recipients ranging from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to White House counsel Pat Cipollone) that had not been uploaded to the committee repository—which, they note, violates House rules. Republicans aren’t even allowed to know what questions Mr. Schiff is asking.

Mr. Schiff has intimated he will eventually make some things public. But Democrats’ barring of Republicans and the White House from this “fact finding” stage ensures what is presented later will be a one-sided narrative.

Read the full column here.